Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Fractional Reserve Banking System

Banks don't lend money, they create it from debit. As debit is potentially unlimited, so is the supply of money. The opposite is also true: no debit, no money.

Just watched an interesting animation about the fractional reserve banking system, and how really money is debt.

moneyasdebit.com | On YouTube (while it lasts)

I'm well familiar with exponential curves, and this revelation terrifies me. Suddenly it all falls into place - the seemlingly endless appetite for the consumption of resources, the futility of "voting" one politcal party into power over another in a "democratic" government, the pull in society towards becoming indebted to banks in order to be able to provide a home for our families.

The presentation is definitely an eye opener. Admitedly, I was naive (or lazy) enough to believe tha banks mostly leant money they'd acquired from deposits and their own capital raising exercises. At the same time, it doesn't present any concise alternatives, but made hints at a few possibilities.

One sounded a lot like socialism, another reminded me a lot of Japan's "construction economy", where the government pours money into the economy in the form of public works like bridges, roads, infrastructure etc, and banks use these to only lend against value, as opposed to debit. Or at least I think that's what was suggested.

Renewable energy was presented as the most promising alternative to creating money from debit - only use, and re-use what limited resources we have. Maybe that's why in recent times most attempts to bring renewable energy sources to market have been suppressed.

Scary stuff.

Maybe this is part of the reason why the real estate situation here in Australia has gotten so out of hand - if people weren't taking on loans to buy houses, the banks would run out of money. At the same time, the amount being borrowed must increase infinitely and that's the point that's so easy to miss when ignorantly believing the misconception that money is leant against value and not debit. As most houses are bought with money borrowed against other debits, the average house price must allways rise, regardless of it's rate of change relative to the average income and cost of living.

Right now in Ausralia it is terribly askew, with the mean house price in Sydney of about $500K being about 10 times the averge income of maybe $50K, while a mortgage for that amount requires a combined income of $145K/year to pay off the interest and feed the insatiable appetite of the fractional reserve banking system.

It's also now the main reason why I never enrolled to vote, and will never be able to buy a house in Australia. Japan on the other hand...

Thursday, September 20, 2007

First Impressions - Altec Lansing mx5021

First impressions: Holy Shit!!!

My last stereo speakers were a pair of bar-fridge sized boxes made by Cerwin Vega with some cheap-ass replacement 12" drivers in them. Needless to say, my expectations were high, especially in the bass response department.

The mx5021 are a 2.1 stereo system consisting of 2 x 20 watt sattelites, each with 2 x 3" midrange drivers and one tweeter. The subwoofer is a 6" driver in a large, wooden, ported enclosure that is driven by a separate 50 watt amplifier.

The specs are deceptive though, the sound coming out of these things is HUGE! The bass especially, if anything it's a little overpowering on the default setting. I can't over-emphasise how massive the bass is, just unbelievable. The subwoofer does has a particularly large enclosure, but I never thought a little 6" driver could rumble like that. Just amazing.

It uses a digital controller with an infra-red remote for volume, bass, and treble which has the usual problem of not providing enough resolution at lower settings - there's a big gap between too quiet and slightly too loud. Also, there is a noticeable 50Hz mains hum coming from the subwoofer at all times which is really inexcusable for such an expensive system - I paid $AU290 because I couldn't be bothered ordering one from ebay - probably caused by the fact that the mains power cable is only a two pin, double insulated type. Hacking in a earth lead might cure the hum, or electrocute you in the process of trying.

Aside from that, the sound is increadible, I was definitely not expecting anything near as good. The mids are lacking slightly, or perhaps I still need to wind the bass back some more. Overall, completely awe-struck.

Update - a week later:

Still amazed by these speakers, but one thing lacking is any chest sensations. I'm not able to really crank these things in our little apartment, but one thing I've noticed is that when they are turned up loud enough to fear invoking the wrath of disgruntled neighbours there's still no floor-shaking, chest-rattling levels of bass. I mean, you can really *hear* the bass, but you can't really feal it. The one thing about my old 12" speaker boxes was that you could use them as a pace maker if you turned them up a bit.

Update - movie listening: earth shaking bass!

Well, a few weeks into my experience with the mx5021 I finally just had a chance to try them out with a movie and the volume up a bit. Keeping in mind that in our apartment building I'm afraid to turn it up past the second lowest volume setting, it seems that any volume settings after the second LED comes on is really where it comes to life. I'd previously mentioned that you can hear the bass but not feel it, but it seems this is really only true for music at reasonable listening levels. For movies where sound effects like explosions are loaded with low frequency energy, the THX certification demonstrates it's worth by punching your chest and shaking the walls and furniture without any trace of distortion. It makes for a truly exhilarating movie experience.

I'd imagine if you could get the third LED (of 5 total) to come on with a movie you'd experience a whole new world of rib cage rattling bass that is belied by the softer, more accurate bass produced at comfortable listening levels by music tracks.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Friday, September 14, 2007

Social vs Anti-social: torrents & recording "industries"

Just had a small revelation:

P2P file-sharing networks encourage social behaviour by the nature of download speeds being improved by larger numbers of people "seeding" after their downloads have completed rather than just getting what they want and then closing the transfer.

The RIAA on the other hand dictates how, when, and where you will make your acquisition, and exactly how much you must pay. If you break any of their terms, they will sue.

Fair's fair, but I know who I'd rather play with...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Computer Choppers

Computer Choppers do some awesome case mods!

Can't wait to see the finished MacBook Pro:

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A word on un-capped bandwidth

I just realised, in Japan where bandwidth is cheap and unlimited, the thought is never on your mind that you have to try to get your money's worth. You pay a reasonable, flat rate per month, and as such you don't feel compelled to try and squeeze every last MB out of your monthly plan.

Here is Aus, where bandwidth is expensive, and limited, we employ bandwidth throttling in out bittorrent clients, and install dahsboard widgets that meter our usage down to the MB to make sure we don't get speed throttled, or let any of our precious, pre-paid MBs go to waste.

And come to think of it, I don't think I've ever download more stuff in my life. I mean just yesterday was the last day of our billing cycle, and I found myself on YouTube with one eye on the bandwidth meter trying to make sure that Optus only got to keep the minimum of bandwidth which I've already paid for. They only ended up with a few MB in their pocket in the end.

If it was uncapped, I'd only download stuff when I really had to, as opposed to actively seeking out things to download in order to utilise the last of my bandwidth. Another example of corporate fear and greed causing more harm than good.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

cool nerd

NerdTests.com says I'm a Cool Nerd.  What are you?  Click here!